It’s that time of the year again…time I start getting Spring fever. Actually I’ve had Spring fever since early last Fall. It’s just within the last few weeks I’ve been able to actually do something about the “Fever” (…and the only cure is MORE Cowbell! ;))
At our old place I had built a raised garden about 3’x12′ and mixed my own All New Square Foot Gardening ” as it talks about maximizing the area your garden takes up and it’s based upon raised gardening – something I’m already familiar with. I figured I could get some tips and tricks for the new raised garden.from peat moss some topsoil and various composts. It was a pretty productive little garden. Last fall, I picked up a copy of “
Well, I got a lot more than just a few tip and tricks. I got a whole new way to garden. Mel Bartholomew, the author of the book, has been refining his technique of Square Foot Gardening (SFG) since 1976, so as you can imagine, he’s got the process pretty well worked out. The first thing I discovered from the book is that you don’t need a super-deep bed to grow strong and healthy plants. For most plants, 6 inches of soil is all you’ll need. Since Mel’s sold over a million of his SFG books, I figure he’s probably right so I’m giving SFG a shot this year. I’ve already build 6 boxes and have some of my seedlings started. Over the Spring/Summer/Fall I’ll be updating the blog with the progression of the garden, both the good & bad.
Gardening = Geeky?
So you’re probably thinking to yourself – “What the hell is so geeky about gardening?”. Well, IMHO, it depends on how you approach it. I like to garden like my Engineer dad taught me – with planning and proper preparation. I think this is why Mel’s method of dividing off 4’x4′ boxes into 1’x1′ squares is so appealing to me. I can plan the layout of the garden down to an inch and have a “blueprint” of a sorts so I don’t forget anything when planting. In fact, as you’ll see in later posts, I actually have a “blueprint” for this year’s garden that should allow for multiple staggered harvests. The blueprint also allows me to know exactly how many of each plant I need to start. This way I only grow what’s needed and don’t end up with a ton of extra seedlings. Although I did start a couple extra tomato plants for our neighbor. 🙂
This method of planning is a bit geeky but it’s part of the overall theme of the garden – maximum efficiency and minimal resources. One of the keys to the SFG method is the soil mix. You don’t use just plain ‘ol dirt, or even conditioned soil. Sure I guess you could, but you’d probably have to work on the dirt a few seasons to get it to a point somewhat close to what Mel has outlined in his book. His Mel’s Mix as he calls it is a blend of Peat Moss, Vermiculite, and various composted materials. This mix is supposed to provide an optimum growing medium for most plants. It’s also supposed to reduce the amount of watering needed. This I can already attest to somewhat. After I built the boxes and added the soil mix, I watered it in and it’s like a sponge. It holds a ton of water, but remains “airy”. So I’m hoping for some terrific growth from the garden this year.
This year I’m not gonna do too much out there as far as new techniques, I’m just gonna stick to the SFG method this year. But in future growing seasons, I want to try Hydroponics and maybe even Aeroponics. I’ve got some cool ideas that I’m really psyched about. My eventual plans are to be able to grow most of the vegetables and even fruits that our family might need. I want to avoid as many artificial fertilizers, pesticides and other common garden chemicals as possible. But I’ll go into that in a later post.
And if you’re still not convinced that gardening can be geeky… I have one last thing to say to ya: Check out EPCOT Center’s Living with The Land attraction in the Land pavilion. ’nuff said. 🙂 Granted the attraction used to be more innovative on new techniques before Eisner let EPCOT Center rot into the sad state it’s in today. But more on that later too. 🙂